Science 3 min read

Enzymes that Can Transform Blood Type in Human Gut Biome Found



In a metagenomic study of bacteria in human feces, a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia made an exciting discovery. They identified two separate enzymes that can act together to transform type A blood into type O in the human gut biome.

There are four blood types, which include A, AB, B, and O. While the other blood types raise compatibility issues during transfusion, an O type doesn’t.

Health professionals can transfuse this blood type into any recipient, making it highly valued. Unfortunately, blood type O is not always available.

According to the American Red Cross, O- account for about 4 percent of Latino-Americans, 1 percent Asians, 4 Percent African-Americans, and 8 Percent Caucasians.

The differences in blood types are due to the sugar molecules – antigens – that occupy the surface of red blood cells.

Transforming Blood Type A to O in Human Gut Biome

Transforming Blood Type A to O using enzymes from human gut biome
Transforming Blood Type A to O using enzymes from human gut biome | Image Credit: Pixabay

The antigens come in different forms. For example, people with A-type antigens have A-type blood, B-type antigens have B-type blood, and those with both antigens have AB-type blood.

However, some red blood cells don’t have antigens on its surface. This is responsible for the blood type-O.

The body initiates an immune response if blood with the wrong antigen is transfused into the body. Since the type-O red blood cells have no antigen, no immune response is initiated.

While previous research by the team at UBC already shows that certain enzymes can convert blood types A, AB, or B to O, the researchers didn’t understand how it worked – until now.

In this new effort, not only were they able to identify the two enzymes that could trigger the transformation, but they also noted that the enzyme exists in the human gut biome.

For the study, the researchers moved DNA from uncultured bacteria into Escherichia coli. Using these bacteria, they checked for any microbe that could remove the antigen from the surface of an RBC.

At first, the findings were not favorable. The team could not find any microbe that could do the job. However, they later discovered two enzymes that could convert the antigens when combined.

The first, a GalNAc deacetylase, converted the antigen into an amine. Then, the second enzyme removed the amine all together, leaving a red blood cell that’s free of antigen.

That’s right, a type-O cell.

The researchers intend to study the enzymes further. Maybe one day, they could develop a safe method of converting blood for transfusion into humans.

Read the published paper in the journal Nature Microbiology.

Read More: Young Blood Transfusion As Anti-Ageing Remedy Is A Scam, FDA Warns

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Sumbo Bello

Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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